Hazen: Diamondbacks still thinking outside the box with potential moves

Nick Piecoro
Arizona Republic

SAN DIEGO — While some rival clubs were throwing around money, the Diamondbacks seemed to have a relatively quiet first day at the winter meetings on Monday. But while speaking with reporters late in the afternoon, General Manager Mike Hazen seemed to at least hint at the potential for his team to make some noise.

A week after mentioning the possibility of doing a deal that would “change the complexion of our team a little bit,” Hazen again dropped hints that he is considering the kind of transaction that outsiders might not see coming.

“I will continue to reiterate that we are exploring every avenue to make the team better,” Hazen said. “Just because something may look on the surface like it’s not a fit doesn’t mean we’re not engaged in that market.”

Hazen said he wasn’t yet able to go into specifics on that front. What he was referring to might not come into focus until it actually happens — if it ever does.

Hazen did speak candidly about other pursuits. He talked about the idea of trading from his outfield surplus, saying rival clubs appear to be valuing them highly enough that a deal could be facilitated. He said he could have “one or two” cards to play when it comes to adding to his bullpen, with at least one more addition likely to come via free agency.

And he mentioned how he is still hoping to add another bat, saying it could come in a variety of forms and, in some instances, could be someone who receives a portion of his at-bats as the designated hitter.

But those are not the club’s only areas of focus, Hazen said.

“All options are on the table,” he said. “The most obvious line is getting relievers to help fill our bullpen. Everything else there is a degree of creativity that goes into how we construct the roster. We have a long way to go in the offseason.”

The only big name to be connected to the Diamondbacks in a prominent way on Monday was that of free-agent shortstop Xander Bogaerts. According to one report, the Diamondbacks have been “among the most serious” of his suitors.

While the Diamondbacks clearly are interested in Bogaerts — and have several prominent people in the organization, including Hazen, Assistant GM Amiel Sawdaye and manager Torey Lovullo, who have connections to him from their days in Boston — multiple sources downplayed the likelihood of such a deal coming to fruition.

The Diamondbacks have money to spend, but Bogaerts figures to be out of their price range given the other holes they have to fill on their roster.

A Diamondbacks-Bogaerts deal seems increasingly unlikely in the wake of the reported 11-year, $300 million contract the Philadelphia Phillies are giving Trea Turner, an agreement that raises the bar for the shortstop market.

Praising Pavin

Outfielder Pavin Smith is back in the country following a 16-game stint playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic, and Hazen said he was pleased not just with how Smith played but with the fact that he was willing to do so in the first place.

Smith played 16 games for Licey in the Dominican Winter League, going 14 for 48 (.292) with a .462 on-base and .458 slugging. He drew 15 walks compared to 13 strikeouts and had three doubles, one triple and one home run.

The stint helped him make up for lost at-bats from the regular season. In July, Smith fractured a bone in his hand shortly after being optioned to Triple-A Reno. The injury cost him 2 1/2 months. He returned to action and earned a September promotion, playing 10 games before the season ended.

Hazen said he the organization still believes in Smith’s offensive potential and envisions a way for him to carve out a role on next year’s team.

“We think he can really hit, that he controls the strike zone and has an approach, and we think he has a real chance to impact our team,” Hazen said. “Glad he went down there and did it, did well, and we’re looking forward to seeing him next year.”

Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox walks across the field in the fifth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 20, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio.